What Kind of Photographer do You Want? | Tips for Hiring the Right Photographer for You

Not sure if it's the change in weather or just the calendar catching up with everyone but my phone has been ringing off the hook lately with inquiries. Getting a chance to talk with super excited brides has been fun (I'm a girlie girl...I want alllllll the details ;-)) What I'm finding is that most couples aren't sure what questions to ask in order to make sure they're hiring the right photographer for them. This gave me the idea to share some terminology with you in hopes of clarifying what we do. I swear every phone call, every meeting I have with a potential client I get the same statement: "I don't want any of that portraiture. That stiff stuff just doesn't do it for me. We only want moments, the real stuff...ya know?" And then I ask them if they've been to our site and did they like what they saw. If so, what was it that they liked so much? And time and again they tell me descriptions of photos that would be described as portraiture. But here's the thing: portraiture today isn't the same portraiture you see when flipping through your mom's wedding album.

The entire wedding industry has gone through crazy amounts of changes and the trends are very different now then even 15 years ago. Weddings are way more elaborate nowadays. They incorporate so much more of the personalities of the couples getting married, additions to the wedding day now tend to include fun stuff for their guests such as caricature artists, photo booths, wine tastings and a gigantic part of the day now is portraiture. Brides collect millions of bridal magazines while planning their weddings and they see the portraiture on those glossy pages and it hits them: that's what they want. Wedding photography has changed a lot over the years and it's much more dramatic now. The eyes of photographers are bigger now. We see so many more opportunities then ever before. We see big, small, powerful, romantic, funny, sad, sweet, touching. We see vivid, breathtaking...we make time stand still now. And with the emergence of digital technology came presets and actions that can be applied to photos to make them look old, new, over-saturated, faded....etc. It's a very very exciting time to be a photographer because there is no limit to creativity.

So let's talk about some different terminology that might help you when selecting the right photographer for you.

Photojournalism (moments...the real stuff, ya know?): This term is used a lot nowadays to describe the type of photography that captures off-the-cuff moments that tell the story of your day. This is also the term that photographers with photojournalism backgrounds get mad about when people use it for the wedding industry. Get over it. It's the easiest term the photography industry can use to describe this type of photography. The subjects are not posed and the photographs tell you what is going on in the photo simply by looking at it. A huge laugh, a tear-streaked bride, the raising of glasses. This type of photography is usually present during the time the bride and groom are getting ready for their wedding day, during the ceremony and during the reception.

Formal Portraiture (the stiff stuff no one but mom wants): This is the portraiture that usually takes place after the ceremony on the altar of the church. This is where Grandma, sisters, brothers, moms and dads are up to bat. Most couples nowadays prefer to keep this to immediate family but occasionally mom wins out and every cousin you ever didn't know is there with their big cheesy grins. Most couples accept that this has to be done, for mom's sake. We try to make this as painless as possible and John and I have a pretty good workflow here so if you give us 15 minutes we give you freedom. :)

Creative Portraiture (aaahhhhhh...the good stuff): This is the portraiture you see on all the glamorous websites, all the glossy magazines...this is the stuff that our couples l.o.v.e but think it's the formal portraiture. So when you say to me "I don't like that posed stuff. We just want the moments" what you're really saying is you want more than the formal portraiture. And don't get me wrong, some couples don't even want creative portraiture and there are photographers who love those couples. And we have had couples ask us to skip this portion of their day for them. No problem. You hire us, we tailor your day to what you want. A lot of photographers won't do that, but we do. We understand that your wedding day is not about us. *gasp* Yep, I said it. But this is the type of photography that most brides go gaga over and rightfully so. It's beautiful, romantic, creative....it's art! I looooooove this segment of the wedding day. I go to bed on the night before a wedding and think of the space that the couple has worked out with us that they want to go to for their creative portraiture (yes. I'm a geek. So?) If I know it well I will think about the couple, their personalities and then I go through all the locations at that space and dream up great stuff. So if I'm a little sleepy on the day of your wedding, that's a good thing. ;-) That means I have magic in store for you.

So typically this is how a traditional wedding day goes:

~Pre-Ceremony: John and I arrive at the location the bride and groom are dressing at. I take photos of the bride and bridemaids getting ready. John does the same for the guys. We all go to the church. John and I take photos of the hustle and bustle of guests arriving and details of the church. We also, if there is time, like to take the groom and groomsmen outside for additional creative portraiture.

~Ceremony: I am the one in the center of the aisle near the back making sure to cover the nuts and bolts of the ceremony. John floats more and captures the photojournalistic side of everything. He focuses on the families, the details and close ups of the bride and groom at the altar.

~Formal Portraiture: Portraits at the altar that everyone can't wait to be over. ;-)

~Creative Portraiture: The fun stuff. We walk, we drive, we create, we make magic. We go wherever you want and we work with you to select locations that go along with your style. We do whatever we can with the time you give us....we can work miracles in 20 minutes but we prefer at least an hour.

~Reception: all photojournalism from this point forward. Of course we encourage our couples to tell family and friends that there will be professional photographers milling around so if they want a family photograph or a photo of their BFF from college, we're there. We cover all events, we focus on your guests (trust me....you'll be busy so we want you to see that your guests had a great time), I get all the details because I revel in details, we also make sure that one of us is close to the bride and groom throughout the evening because we want to be right there if there is a photo you'd like to have. We get it all. That's what we do.

Another delicious trend has started that I just looooove. It's called a First Look or a First Glance. This is when the couple decides to toss tradition out the door and wants to get the creative portraiture, and even the formal portraiture, out of the way before the day even begins. I'm a fan of this for so many reasons: (1) It gives the bride and groom an intimate and romantic moment to see each other for the first time on their wedding day...without 300 people staring at you. (2) It inserts a portraiture session into the beginning of your day so you can start this at any time, meaning you are not rushed to squeeze in that time right after your ceremony and before your reception. It's much more relaxed and enjoyable. (3) Your guests don't have to wait for you. Nothing more that needs to be said about that. (4) You can choose to be at your own cocktail hour. First off, you're paying for all those yummy appies, why not enjoy them?? Secondly, you can visit with a lot of your guests during this hour allowing the couple to not have to feel the pressure to visit every. single. table once the reception begins. And if you choose not to be a part of the cocktail hour you can use that time to really relax and spend some time with your new husband and your closest friends that you chose to support you at the altar. As you can tell, I'm a fan of this.

So here you go folks. Remember when you're talking to potential photographers to discuss how the day usually goes for them. Are they ok with creative portraiture and if so, how ok. Do they want to toss in 15 minutes to get that done or is it more of a priority for them (like us) and they want to spend more time during that portion of the day? OR do you even want creative portraiture and if not, is the photographer ok with that. Or will they try to talk you into it, in which case you know that's not the photographer for you. The point is, there is a photographer for you. Just don't let yourself be talked into something you don't want or be talked out of something you do want.

OK! Class dismissed. ;-)